Friday, July 28, 2000

Rants From the Upper Deck: Mid-Season Edition by Steve Reynolds

Since this third edition of Zisk has been ever so painfully delayed, the Ranter has had enough opportunities to view the game to issue my annual mid-season report. First off, two words that make Yankee fans pray to the God of their choosing—Chuck Knoblauch. He has fallen so far this season that even I have some sympathy for him. Sure, King George is grumbling about the Yanks so far, and keeps dreaming of Mr. Pepsi Challenge, Sammy Sosa, to beef up a stagnant offense. But how about trading for a competent second baseman/table setter? If I were Mr. Steinbrenner, I would break those “unspoken” promises to Chuck agents, the Hendricks brothers (who also handle Roger Clemens) about a contract extension, and ship Mentalblauch out—fast.

We could have a Sox double shot in the playoffs this year. The Red Sox slot (either as a division or wild card winner) is a given with Pedro every five days. But who would expect to write this—the Chicago White Sox are in first. I say it again—the Chicago White Sox are in first. Who the heck are these guys? Even though Mike Hargrove is struggling to get the overpaid Orioles to work, his worth as a manager is being proved as the Indians muddle through this year. And the low budget Kansas City Royals are hanging around .500, making the AL Central perhaps the division to watch this year.

Of course, the A.L. West looks just as fun, as Oakland continues their improvement from last year, Seattle proves trading Ken Griffey Jr. was a solid move, and the Angels continue to rid themselves of last year’s nightmare. Even Texas has a shot at playing .500 ball—who says parity isn’t fun?

In the N.L., the Braves are playing as if John Rocker doesn’t disturb them at all. In fact, I think the Braves have a bit of late ’70s Yanks in them—bring on the clubhouse squabbles, and we’ll take out our frustrations on the opposing team. The only team that may give them a run for their money is my N.L. Central pick, the St. Louis Cardinals. (More on the Mets in a second) Jim Edmonds must be Mark McGwire’s new best friend. And Darryl Kile, welcome back from oblivion, a.k.a, Colorado, my friend. Speaking of the Rockies, what are they doing competing with Arizona? This fantasy will fade.

The Mets are likely to get the wild card again, but that’s where the ride will end. This team is good, but just doesn’t seem to have that special feeling last year’s team had at the end of the season. Of course, bringing back Lenny Harris as a sidekick for Mike Piazza can’t hurt.

Unfortunately, there’s really nothing this season for the Ranter to get pissed about. Sure, 17-4 scores are more common, but I think I’ve seen even more 3-2 tightly fought games this year. The umpires being folded into one body has been odd, but the adjustment doesn’t look that tough for the best pitchers. Well, there’s a crazy realignment plan that’s bound to happen, so that’ll get my blood pressure going.

The Ranter’s Mid-Season Awards:

A.L. MVP: Carl Everett, Boston Red Sox. Why didn’t he play like this for the Mets? He's other reason that Boston is scaring the Yankees this year. (See below)

A.L. Cy Young: Pedro Martinez, Boston Red Sox. Duh.

N.L. MVP: Todd Helton, Colorado Rockies. Without him, they’re the Astros. Or maybe the Phillies.

N.L. Cy Young: (tie) Randy Johnson, Arizona Diamondbacks, and Al Leiter, New York Mets. Sure it seems crazy with Johnson’s stats this year, but Leiter has been THE MAN for the Mets. He pitches, they win.

No comments: